The United Nations (UN) calculates that at present more than half of the world's inhabitants live in cities. And that could rise to 70 percent by 2050. Experts are predicting a particularly sharp rise in the urban population in Asia and Africa. At the same time, conurbations are growing in size. Today, there are 19 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, and there could be 29 by 2025. Back in 1950 the world had only one city of this size. The UN believes that this development will have a significant impact on the future: "Cities are where the pressures of migration, globalization, economic development, social inequality, environmental pollution and climate change are most directly felt. Yet at the same time they are the engines of the world economy and centers of innovation where many solutions to global problems are being piloted."
However, megacities differ greatly from each other. Cities in the established industrialized countries are mainly confronted with the implications of demographic change, while in developing countries, cities are growing extremely fast due to population growth and rural depopulation. They are therefore rapidly reaching their limits, not simply in terms of infrastructure. In China, enormous modern conurbations are planned on the drawing board.
Evonik is monitoring the urbanization trend very closely because the megatrends of relevance to the Evonik Group — health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization — have a significant impact on life in megacities. As one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals, Evonik is systematically aligning its business to these long-term trends. Its portfolio already contains many products that could help address the challenges confronting people in megacities.